Saturday, December 31, 2005


I'm currently transforming this theme into "Neuron-green", please bear with me for the funny colors.

The header image is originally from Katherine Lu found in Flickr.

Friday, December 30, 2005


I have given this version of Neuron theme a name "Neuron-Blue". My next step is to create another version "Neuron-Green".


CONSISTENCY – the key is to “make their commitments active, public, and voluntary”.
There is empirical evidence to show that a commitment made out loud, written down or otherwise made explicit is likely to affect one’s future conduct than the same choice left only in mind/heart. May be this is why commandments are engraved in stone. In office life it is important that commitments, communications that are important are delivered and received in writing. This is not just for a matter of record but also that if people are accustomed to putting commitments in writing they will surely think twice before making them to others and to themselves. Last but not least commitments must be voluntary and not forced, coerced or imposed on. It is important that the one committing must feel that he/she owns that commitment.

AUTHORITY – defer to expert is a human nature. Human being is follower; we naturally follow those who display authority. We naturally seek leader and decision makers around us to follow. It is a wrong assumption that your peers know everything about you and how much you are relatively superior than them at certain things. Executive and leader of a team should therefore establish their authority in order to exert influence. You may have time to establish your authority with your own staff but you may have to plan ahead if you wish to let your external working partners to know more about your expertise. It would be better if relevant information about you is conveyed causally rather than through formal introduction at official sessions. You may be seen as showing off if your messages are misread.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

WordPress 2.0

It's out at last my test site using RC3 is therefore useless. Wonder when my hosting Site5 will have automatic upgrade available.

New icons

Simple is beautiful.

The "+" and "-" icons you see now on the sidebar are final, I won't spend time making new ones. Also felt that these icons and "dots" that go in front of text shouldn't be drawing more attention than the text itself.

More CSS changes

Added 1em to the left margin to the paragraph tag [p] which wraps around the text generated for archived posts above menuheader. The font size is also set to 1em. Font weight of [h2] is also changed to normal instead of bold.

PS: first attempt above was wrongly done at the wrong "p" tag as I failed to see the sidebar "p" tag further down the CSS file. Now added padding-left: 1em and font-size: 0.9em (was 0.6em) for the "p" tag for sidebar.


RECIPROCITY – this is about “give what you want to receive”. The best way to make friend with others is to give before you demand. This is the same to say that open up yourself before you expect others to open up. This behavior is especially important when one attempts to build good working relationship with another department or another company in a joint venture. Being too “mean” on things and do not show your generosity before demanding assistance will be harmful to the relationship in the long run.

SOCIAL PROOF – this is about “using peer power (or pressure) whenever it’s available”. This appears to be common sense but we seldom can harness its power at work. Human being is species that live together in groups. Our basis instinct is to follow behavior of others in the group that we live in. If you browse outside a restaurant that you have not been to and see nobody inside you surely will hesitate to step in. If you see a packed restaurant you surely will give it a try. If you can spot a friend of you eating inside a restaurant you definitely will jump in without hesitation. At work a charismatic leader will first capture the “heart” of a few people before making an attempt to convince a much larger group publicly. A risky and controversial approach will win alliance much easier if a few at the meeting support your proposal or even defend on your behalf. Gaining consensus by a group this way is a lot smarter than saying “I’m the boss, let’s do it”.

Old photos


Old photos


Old Photos


Old photo collection


No wonder KCR is not profitable


First trip on West Rail


Nice Chicken Wing


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Harnessing the Science of Persuasion

HBR October 2001 - by Robert B. Cialdini

The article is about the Science of Persuasion. Most of us may have wondered why some people are so good at persuasion and this article is trying to tell us that behavioral scientists have proved that persuasion skill is in fact Science which can be harnessed through learning. There are 6 principles identified in the research by the author and by behavioral scientists during the last 5 decades, they are:-







Let’s examine each one of the above with some examples in our business/office life.
LIKING – The key behind this method is that “people like those who like them”. In the office environment most of us will naturally make friends with peers in order to make life easier. Unconsciously we want to know each other not just their duty at work, goals for this quarter but also their personal interests and how they kill time after work. We would automatically adjust our area of interest during daily encounter with peers and attempt to find similarity on various aspects of our life such as hobbies, interests, where to go or what to eat etc. You will observe that those born persuaders can find themselves playing an active role in any conversations and everyone enjoys his/her participation. Natural persuaders also can use praise properly especially on the opposite sex. People of same sex may resent praise if it is not delivered genuinely and carefully. Praise for opposite sex must be used with care to avoid being misunderstood and unnecessary harassment.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

More changes

Added below to the theme

  • Expand/Contract button moved to the left

  • Text of menuheader moved to the right

  • Text-Align: right left used for unordered list within menuheader

  • bullet image added to ul li li of menu sub-items

Added also at the footer

  1. Visitors' map link

  2. Statcounter

What else to do?

  1. Do a new image for ul li li items

  2. May be a new image for the expand/contract button on menuheader

links for 2005-12-24

Friday, December 23, 2005

Temporary Replacement

A 37" Hitachi Plasma, much nicer I have to say



My Hitachi 37" LCD, 5 days old


Color tweaks

Managed to tweak the color further of this theme. The background is picked from Windows Live. The fine adjustment of CSS codes is tedious but now I have done it.

Picking color is done with the help of a freeware Quick Color Picker.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Activated Neuron

The Neuron theme I tweaked and experimented at my other site is now activated here. The change here so far is matching the sidebar background color with the main background. I wonder if it is possible to have the whole sidebar having the same or different background color.

The menuheader image can also be improved as well.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Learning to use

There is a great tool for posting of your daily Links to your blog automatically. A step by step instruction is found in theory.isthereason and this support forum post of

I'm now waiting for the magic moment to come.

Economic Performance in Post-Crisis Korea: A Critical Perspective on Neoliberal Restructuring

Contributed by Eric

This paper evaluates the neoliberal economic restructuring process implemented in Korea following the 1997 Asian financial crisis. The paper concludes by arguing that Korea should reject radical neoliberal restructuring and instead adopt reforms designed to democratize and modernize its traditional state-guided growth model:

  • As a result of financial crisis that broke out in Southeast Asia in 1997, foreign banks demanded immediate repayment of their loans that were used to fund long-term investment projects.
  • Korean firms were unable to repay their debts that force the Korean Government to accept an IMF loan to repay foreign debt in return for effective IMF control of Korean economic policy.
  • Simultaneously, the IMF ordered President-elect Kim Dae Jung to drastically accelerate the transition of the Korean economy from its traditional state-guided model to a neoliberal model – like the US and UK.
  • After falling near 7% in 1998, real GDP growth was almost 11% in 1999 and 9% in 2000, which was described as a resurgent economy.

However, this paper questioned the success of neoliberal restructuring with a careful examination of relevant data from 1991 to 2000:

  • It has created neither a health financial sector nor a profitable industrial sector. Instead, it triggered a vicious circle that keeps financial institutions perpetually weak – i.e. not able to provide necessary fund to industrial firms.
  • It has failed to restore Korea to a sustainable high-growth path – the economic recovery of 1999 and 2000 was imbalanced and unsustainable and the economic condition of the majority of the population has deteriorated.
  • The imposition of restrictive prudential regulation and large-scale bank closings in the midst of the 1998 collapse create a vicious credit supply crunch, while the requirement to drastically reduce leverage ratios left Korean corporations unable to demand desperately needed external finance.
  • Korea’s major corporations remain debt-burdened and unprofitable, while the attempt to break insider control of chaebol decision-making has yet to succeed.
  • If the government continues to force large numbers of unprofitable firms and banks to close, a new financial and economic crisis is likely to occur. But if it continues to use public funds to prop up weak enterprises, restructuring will fail.
  • Neoliberal restructuring has led to increased inequality and economic insecurity.
  • Contrary to the neoliberal ethos, it was the state, not the market system that designed and executed the restructuring process. Three and one half years into the neoliberal revolution, the state continues to exercise substantial power over market processes and outcomes.

Pre-crisis liberalization plus radical post-crisis neoliberal restructuring have dismantled or badly weakened many of the policy tools the government traditionally used to impose social control over the Korean economy. Indeed, contrary to President Kim’s belief that free-market systems promote democracy, neoliberal restructuring requires the replacement of at least potentially democratic political control over the economy with market processes dominated by rich individuals and powerful companies.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Spreadsheet wiki

Want to collaborate with a group of people on spreadsheet? Try Tracker. There are similar things such as numsum or a open-sourced product TrimPath. You can read more from Micro Persuasion or Techcrunch.

This is a test from

This is a test document written in a new AJAX driven web-based Word processing service.

  1. ordered item 1
  2. ordered item 2
  3. point 3
  4. last one 4

  • unordered list 1
  • number 2
  • how about having a 3
  • last one 4

Change font BIG size small size, underlined italics2

Another post from

The above is an image from Windows screensaver

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Email mania

I have just signed up a free account see at 30gigs

I'm not impressed at all. First of all it's pretty slow using gmail as benchmark. Secondly it's pretty raw, e.g. I can't find help, there is no import of contact and email address book etc.....I think there is a long way for them to go to get competitive.

Learnt from webnews that mailnation offers 1000Gb email service (webmail only) for free. I have also briefly tried, but will forget them as I think they are too aggresive and too many features have been built into it making it super slow. I don't think it's built on AJAX. Everyone is going for thinclient services, I'll do a collection of online services for word processing, spreadsheet, calendar, bookmark.....whatever you can think of soon.

Friday, December 9, 2005

2002 Presidential Election (Part V)

In the elections, the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) won a landslide victory by winning 11 of the 16 provincial governors and mayors. The ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) suffered a devastating defeat, winning only four seats, with the remaining one going to an independent party. The successive defeats prompted the MDP to get into an extreme internal dissension.

Roh Moo-hyun of the ruling MDP won the presidential election held December 19, 2002, defeating Lee Hoi-chang (李會昌, bio Wiki) of the main opposition GNP.

The 90's (Part IV)

Under the so-called ‘grand compromise’ in 1990, the Democratic Justice Party (led by Roh Tae-woo), the Reunification Democratic Party (RDP - led by Kim Young-sam) and the New Democratic Republican Party (NDRP - led by Kim Jong-pil 金鍾泌 Wiki) merged to create the Democratic Liberal Party (DLP). The specific path taken by the transformation process and transformation strategies of the relevant decision makers thus had a stabilizing effect on the basic democratic institutions and procedures in the country. This became the first civilian to assume the country’s highest national and governmental office in 1992/93 after more than 30 years of military domination of national politics.

Before the 1997 presidential elections, Kim Jong-pil and Kim Dae-jung of the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) formed a new opposition alliance which paved the way for the first democratic change of government in South Korean history. Kim Dae-jung was the first opposition candidate to win the presidential contest on 18 December 1997. The inauguration in February 1998 of the newly-elected President Kim Dae-jung, a dissident for many years, demonstrated that all the country’s relevant forces had been integrated into the political system.

South Korea in the Late 1990s --- Negotiating Reforms

  1. Increasing Campaign Spending and Political Corruption. Elections in Korea today have become capital-intensive. Although this is a world-wide phenomenon, soaring campaign costs are especially significant in South Korea. This gives candidates strong rational incentives to invest more and more money in outbidding their opponents. To limit campaign spending some observers have proposed a reduction in the number of seats in the National Assembly to about 260.

  2. Deficit of Social Representativeness of Parliament and Political Parties: Critics of the current system argue that it is unable to transmit public opinion and social interests into parliament. In other words, the composition of parliament does not represent sufficiently the public will. The current system benefits major, established, or larger parties. They are, however, the biggest obstacles for democratic consolidation in South Korea.

  3. Furthermore, stable alignments between the parties and the electorate do not exist; linkages between parties, candidates and society are weak or absent. The degree of organizational autonomy of Korean parties is generally low. The social, financial and political support parties receive from other groups in society is mostly under the control of individual politicians. There are very few organizational resources which are not bound to leading party figures. Also, the linkages between various party factions are weak.

  4. Regionalism. Critics of the current system argue that it blocks the development of a truly national party system. They claim that it supports regionalistic tendencies and offers strong incentives to those political parties who act as brokers of regionalistic interests.

  5. Party Formation. This fourth point is an additional peril of the current system, which is, however, not much discussed in the Korean debate. The current electoral system hampers the development of stable party organizations. Instead it supports tendencies toward a short-lived, volatile party system, characterized by frequent party splits, mergers and re-foundings of party organizations, continuous re-labelling of parties and a lack of party institutionalization.

The current system is a candidate-centred electoral system, whereas a proportional system would be more party-centred. Vice president was elected separately, with Rhee's favourite Lee Gi-bung being declared victor. Opposition claims election was rigged.

The 80's (Part III)

Like his predecessor Park, Chun Doo-hwan was elected president by an electoral committee in February 1981. Before the 1981 parliamentary elections, political parties were unbanned.

In January 1985, two leading politicians, Kim Young-sam (金泳三, bio Infoplease Wiki) and Kim Dae-jung (金大中), established a new opposition party, called the New Korea Democratic Party (NKDP). The emergence of a powerful opposition force led to a political crisis in 1987 and eventually to democratization when the Sixth Republic was established in the winter of the same year.

The Korean government changed the electoral rules whenever it became clear that the electoral system had lost its use, hence the frequent changes of provisions for presidential elections and the electoral system used in legislative elections. In the long-term, however, this strategy was only of limited use. On several occasions elections developed an unintended political dynamic which forced the authoritarian governments to violate their own rules of the electoral game. After a while, the strategy of legitimization in semi-competitive elections failed. This failure, in turn, was the beginning of the end of the authoritarian rule of presidents Syngman Rhee (1960), Park Chung-hee (1978) and Chun Doo-hwan (1985).

With regard to the integration of the political will of the Korean people, the electoral system worked quite efficiently, at least from the late 1950s, as the decreasing fragmentation of the party system shows.

The country’s domestic policy crisis escalated in the summer of 1987 as a result of skilful political maneuvering on the part of the opposition leaders, the strategic failures of the ruling elite and external influences, such as pressure from the United States and the then upcoming Olympic Games. The country’s major cities saw mass protests.

Chun’s designated successor, Roh Tae-woo (盧泰愚, bio Wiki), declared the democratic opening of the regime on 6 June 1987. In bilateral talks, the New Korea Democratic Party and the Democratic Justice Party negotiated the transition to the Sixth Republic. The institutional democratization was completed a few months later, after the approval of a new constitution by a referendum and the election of the president.

Roh Tae-woo won the election in 1987 with a little more than one third of the total valid votes. With a representative of the old regime in the top position, the military forces were rapidly integrated into the democratic system. The moderate reform policies pursued by Roh proved to be compatible with the self interests of the main body of the old regime’s supporters.

The defeat forced the opposition to reform their own confrontation strategies. In the early 1990s, this resulted in the reorganization of the party system. The resulting situation provided, during the initial years of democratic rule, a fruitful basis for the creation of a consensus among the relevant political parties and within the mainly conservative populace of the country that a return to an authoritarian regime was not the road to the future.

A Brief History of Electoral Development (Part II)

Since the partition of the Korean peninsula in 1945, the political development of the southern part of Korea has followed a democratic-authoritarian cycle, which has produced six republics to date. When American troops entered the southern region after the surrender of Japanese armed forces, Korea was a society with no experience of the institutions and organizations of a representative democracy. The history of the Korean electoral system goes back to 1948. Since then there has been universal, equal, direct and secret suffrage.

The first step in the process of South Korea’s independence was the decision of the United States Military Government in Korea to establish a separate Korean state south of the thirty-seventh parallel. A draft constitution was elaborated by a parliament (National Assembly) which had been directly elected in May 1948. This National Assembly in turn elected Syngman Rhee (李承晩, bio in Wiki to the presidential office.

The Republic of Korea eventually became independent on 15 August 1948. The vast majority of South Korean citizens had no understanding of the system of political representation and democratic institutions. A truly national party system did not exist.

In the new presidential form of government Rhee acted both as head of state and head of government, with a vice-president at his side. Yet after the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Rhee gradually consolidated his one-man rule.

The 1952 parliamentary elections brought the National Assembly under the control of Rhee’s supporters. The subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections of the 1950s were subject to extensive vote-buying, abuse of electoral rules and fraud.

As a result of his government’s failure economically, Rhee saw himself increasingly deprived of both domestic and foreign support. By March 1960 he had to resort to illegal mechanisms to be re-elected, followed by large-scale demonstrations by both students and urban residents. Finally, Rhee went into exile in Hawaii on 26 April 1960.

The short-lived Second Republic followed. On 10 June 1960, a new constitution was passed, which provided for a bicameral parliament. The new parliament was elected three weeks later. Chang Myon (bio AsiaSource), a member of the former main opposition Democratic Party (DP), became Prime Minister on 19 August 1960.

However, due to internal turmoil, widespread corruption in the state administration and Chang Myon’s announcement that he intended to cut the defence budget, several factions of the military were reluctant to support the new democratic regime. On 16 May 1961, a junta, known as the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction (SCNR), led by General Park Chung-hee (朴正熙, bio Wiki MSN Encarta) took over power.

A new constitution was approved by a referendum on 17 December 1962, and the presidential system was restored. After free and more or less fair elections Park became president in October 1963. The elections of 1967 gave him another term in office, and the constitution was amended in 1969 to provide for the possibility of a third presidential term.

In the 1971 presidential elections, Park prevailed against the candidate of the oppositional National Democratic Party (NDP), Kim Dae-jung (金大中, bio Nobel Wiki), albeit only through massive fraud. In October 1972, Park suspended the constitution and declared martial law.

Legitimized by a pseudo-democratic referendum, the notorious Yushin (Revitalization) Constitution was enacted. Park was confirmed as president twice more (1973 and 1978) by an electoral committee known as the National Conference for Unification. On 26 October 1979, he was assassinated by Kim Jai-kyu (金載圭, bio Wiki Britannica), the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.

A new military regime led by General Chun Doo-hwan (全斗煥, bio Wiki Encyclopedia)emerged. The new junta (Special Committee for National Security Measures) declared martial law, dissolved the National Assembly and banned all political parties.

Finally, with the approval by referendum of a new constitution in October 1980, the Fifth Republic was institutionalized. It meant more or less the continuation of disguised military rule.

Electoral Politics in South Korea (Part I)

The original article was written by Aurel Croissant available from the Friedrich Edert Foundation. This series is contributed by Ruth.

Legislative power / political party in South Korea

  • Vested in the National Assembly (composed of 299 members serving four-year terms). Every four years, 243 members are elected by popular vote, while the remaining 56 seats allotted to each political party that has obtained 3% or more of the total valid votes or five or more seats in the local constituency election.

  • To be eligible for election, a candidate must be at least 25 years old. One candidate from each electoral district is elected by a plurality (the next general elections are due in 2008).

  • Functions of the National Assembly : making laws, deliberation and approval of the annual budget, audits of the administration, matters related to foreign relations, declaration of war, the dispatch of armed forces abroad and impeachment.

  • South Korea has a multi-party system, with numerous parties in which parties have a chance of gaining power alone.

Electoral development in South Korea

  • A long history of elections.

  • Until 1987, the electoral system was used by the ruling elites as a tool to stabilize their power and not as a technical means to realize the democratic principles embedded in the electoral process.

  • When democratization led to political change in the late 1980s, electoral reform was a major step in the process of the institutionalization of the democratic regime.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Archives and Links Pages

Further customization done at templates for archives and links. I don't think users would need to see such a long sidebar therefore I have left only "search this blog" and Google Adsense there. This looks neat and tidy and loading should be faster.

Conclusion (Part VIII)

The paper was published in 2001. The punch line, as a conclusion by the authors, was "...the widely advertised neoliberal Korean miracle is a fraud". This conclusion is justified as can be seen from the chart below. After the "dip" in 1998 most of 2001 was in a valley hence the statement in the paper that "... a renewed outbreak of financial crisis cannot be ruled out".

It is the opinion of the authors that destruction of the policy tools to guide the economy is not an easily reversible political process. The destruction is historically happened in the aftermath of a depression, revolution or war. In the absence of a crisis it will be difficult to put together political coalitions to create such as system from scratch. It is also impossible, as the authors put it, for Korea to change from neoliberal system with US government, the IMF, President Kim and their supporters still have their hands in the pie.


Rising Foreign Economic Domination (Part VII)

The outgoing President Kim Young Sam (金泳三) signed the first restructing agreement between the IMF and Korea in December 1977, he was under pressure and had no choices.

President Kim Dea Jung would be pleased to have external forces to accelerate reform perhaps due to his past during military regime and badly treated by cheabol before. He is a strong believer in unrestricted, globally open financial markets.

In late 1997 the government had to use, by Standard and Poor estimate, $125 billion (or about 30% of the country's 1999 GDP) to save the banking system. President Kim also threatened chaebol to cut off their credit unless their indebtedness is massively reduced.

With such policy implemented, foreign direct investment (FDI) poured in, ownerships of major Korean enterprises changed hands. However when Korean's major financial institutions are also in the hands of foreign owers Korea is losing control of its economic destiny. E.g. foreigners own 44% of Korean semiconductor shares and 21% of telecommunication shares (Korea Times) and the dominant stockholders in such important firms as Hyundai Motors, Hyundai Electronics, LG Chemical and Samsung Electronics.

Impact of Restructing (Part VI)

Once laws protecting workers were removed chaebol took advantage immediately, firing about 30% of their workers. In January 1998 President-elect Kim Dae Jung (bio: nobelprize Wiki, promised workers a US Style social welfare system as compensation but that was never delivered due to the enormous cost of such as system and constraints on government spending.

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU, Wiki) made valiant efforts to slow down neoliberal restructuring. Strike activity, measured in days lost, in 1998 & 1999 was 3 times the 1997 level.

Upon taking office President Kim took decisive actions against labour movements by issuing arrest warrents for strike leaders.

However there were no consensus among permanent and temporary works, media and the middle class. This is evidenced by the fact that the more conservative Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU, has refused to join forces with the KCTU in the fight against restructing.

Broadband Peneetration and Participatory Politics

This is a paper from the Proceedings of the 37th hawaii International Converence on System Sciences - 2004, the authors are Heekyung Hellen Kim, Jae Yun Moon and Shinkyu Yang.

As this paper only examines the potential impart of the Internet on the political process in a young democracy, Roh Moo-hyun’s (盧武鉉, official bio, Wiki), victory on Dec 19, 2002, only little information regarding the political system could be extracted.

  • The success of the Roh Moo-hyun was due to the support from “generation 386” (an acronym that stands for people in their thirties (3) who participated in the student movement in eighties (8) and were born in the sixties (6))

  • A societal shift from the industrial to the “information age”

  • The first true one-to-many communication technology

  • If people had equal access, the Internet had real potential to bring “new” individuals into the political process

  • It was only 10 years ago that Koreans had the first civilian President by a democratic election after three decades of military dictatorship.

Contributed by Avis.

Friday, December 2, 2005

The destruction of the old Model (Part V)

Strong laws protecting job security were replaced by fire-at-will legislation. Barriers to the entry of foreign goods, moeny, and corporate investment were eliminated, in the true neoliberalism sense the global markets would make all economic decisions without interference from the Government.

Post-crisis economy (Part IV)

In late 1997 the bubble burst, banks pulled out, demanding immediate repayment of some $60billion in short-term loans which nearly pushed Korean banking system to bankruptcy.

On reaction banks cut loans to highly indebted domestic corporations, forcing them towards brink of insolvency. Korea then turned to IMF for help to pay its foreign creditors and control of Korean economy was handed over.

IMF took advantage of the situation. Instead of restoring control over captital flows (like Malaysia) IMF used the opportunity to destroy what remained of its East Asian model and replaced it with a market-driven neoliberal system.

Pre-crisis economy (Part III)

From early 1990 the Korea government faced intense pressure from US, the IMF and large chaebol who wanted to have their hands freed. By mid 1990 large firms can invest as they pleased, regulation on domestic bank activity reduced and foreign banks and investors can run short-term or "hot" money into and out of Korea. This has fueled investment which was later over-heated.

A brief history of Korea's "East Asian" economic model (Part II)

Since 1961 Korea adopted the "east asian model" from Japan. The government took control of all economic activities in order to achieve state-set national development goals. What industries and technologies would receive priority, allocation of capital and investment by powerful Korean conglomerates (chaebol 財閥) were all set by the government. Most importantly there was no free flow of money into and out of Korea.

Under this model Korea became one of the 4 miracle economies. Cambridge University economist Ajit singh called the model "the most successful economic development model in the history of the world".

Korea's Neoliberal Restructing (Part I)

I'm trying to do a quick and short summary of a paper titled "Korea's Neoliberal Restructuring: Miracle or Disaster?" by James Crotty and kang-Kook Lee (2001) published by Political Economy Research Institute (PERI of University of Massachusetts Amberst). It was published in Dollars and Sense, No 236 in July/August 2001.

This study is about Neoliberal Restructuring in Korea thereofore first of all you have to understand what Neoliberalism (新自由主义) is. Quoting word for word from Wiki it's about

In the United States, the term "neoliberalism" has also been used in a philosophical sense as a drive to deliberately modify the beliefs and practices of the church (especially evangelical) to tie social values with economic. (See Neoliberalism (religion))

Neoliberalism refers to a political-economic philosophy that has had major implications for government policies beginning in the 1970s – and increasingly prominent since 1980 – that de-emphasizes or rejects government intervention in the economy , focusing instead on structured free-market methods, and fewer restrictions on business operations and that the most important class of rights to expand are those of property enforcement, and of opening nations to entry by multinational corporations. In a broader sense it is used to describe the movement towards using the market to achieve a wide range of social ends previously filled by government.

It is generally hostile to protectionism, social democracy and socialism. It is often at odds with fair trade and other movements that argue that labor rights and social justice should have a greater priority in international relations and economics.

There are more information from about neoliberalism.

South Korea's economy has recovered from the 1997 economic crisis faster than anyone expected.

IMF praised Korea's neoliberal restructuring by saying "over the past 2 years bold policies and commitment to reform have made Korea a more open, competitive, and market driven economy"

New Software Installations

Installed today OneCare Live Beta which can replace 3rd party Tune Up utilities for Windows and even Norton Systemworks. This would perhaps save some disk space and background running overhead.

This OneCare service will eventually be chargable but I think the public will tell Microsoft how good it is before they dare to charge for it, news about it from Yahoo News.

Have also downloaded and will install Phishing Filter Add-in for MSN toolbar.

Real Life Example

C is a competent Sales and Marketing Manager who is good at “managing people and relationship” and “influence through language and ideas”, so to speak. Her previous experience was limited to managing relationship with clients instead of subordinates in a large company.

C was recruited to the company S due to her outstanding sales experience, academic background and outgoing personality. C’s first post was Sales and Marketing Manager for department M which deals with mostly existing accounts.

After few years of successful performance the company posted her to do a difficult assignment of sorting out a 60% owned subsidiary S1. C was not happy being made Managing Director of S1 although the promotion was envied by her peers. The assignment requires none of her core skills. The scary part was that a Director was sent earlier to that position for a year but has failed to achieve what he was told to do. The subsidiary S1 has around 150 people, was in a mess with the 40% owner still taking much control of the day to day operation, and with a client base that C has never dealt with before. C was not really an operation manager type of person with very little knowledge and confidence in herself about managing technical managers and technicians.

The management board of company S was expecting C to straighten out S1 in about a year. In about 6 months C successful strike a deal with the 40% owner to sell their shares at a much lower price than what was budgeted. Again C has exceeded expectation but she was not happy with the outcome. The better than expected performance of C has prompted yet another plan by the management to further push C up the ladder for tougher assignments.

C will be very soon 3 levels above her first boss in the company. Is C happy with these moves? C isn’t happy because her own team in the original department M has been broken up by the management also because of the good performance, i.e. they worked themselves out of the job they all liked. One member of the sales team was asked to manage a smaller subsidiary S2; another one left behind became General Manager who has to work with few new comers to the department. Performance of department M deteriorated; there are also 3 unhappy employees.

From the company perspective job sculpting isn’t required because what’s more important is getting tough tasks accomplished and positions filled with suitable people. Company S belongs to a large British group and it has well established HR policy. Great deal of money was spent in training and development and there is a saying that C was picked as successor for a tougher position up in the ladder purely because of her past performance and was a “popular piece” of a large puzzle in organization reshuffle.

Why the theory of Job Sculpting doesn’t apply here? Why didn’t C threaten to leave so as to trigger company C to observe the need for job sculpting and ask her about “deeply embedded life interests”? The truth of the matter is that not too many people can afford to quit a job for something they desire to do deep down in their skin. They have many other considerations in life which might have pushed “deeply embedded life interests” down the priority list. These considerations could be family, financial, market situation and career prospect of the company….etc.

Work satisfaction is sometime not a prime concern to most employees in certain culture. Job Sculpting is also not in the agenda of HR professional because retaining talent doesn’t appear to be a problem in a competitive market. Will unsatisfied employees still deliver their best, yes in this competitive environment I’m sure most of them will.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Does the Theory Work?

The article appears to draw conclusion from a serious of interviews with business professional. Those interviewed may have revealed, through tests, their true deeply embedded life interests who may have said that they could have been more satisfied if their career path was leading to their interests. However it is not sure if the organizations where these interviewees have worked in have practiced job sculpting as described in the article and what quantitative improvements at the bottom line are found.

In practice there are many obstacles to put this theory to work. Firstly the organization has to be fairly established, systematic, well organized and large enough for talented people to move around. For a large organization one would assume that there are many talented people and before job sculpting is practiced and became a culture in HRM a good percentage of the talented people may be placed wrongly. Theoretically when job sculpting starts the game of music chair begins and people move around to a position where they belong. Even if the company is well organized there is bound to be teething problems due to people movement, lost of productivity and even higher operating costs due to changes to remunerations, relocation costs etc. Furthermore if a talented staff is already performing superbly for the company a steady state has been established with respect to people chemistry, team spirit, client/vendor/partner relationships etc. Although it may be sensible to move this smart employee to a more suitable position for long term gain of the company it will be extremely difficult for his/her Manager to justify this short term pain.

Would the Manager sacrifices his own performance for a better future of his smart subordinate?

Will the superior of the Manager understands and supports the move?

What will be reaction of others that do not appreciate the justification to this job sculpting act and see this as nepotism?

If many more are asking for the same treatment then who get listened to and who do not?